NEW TSUNAMI THREAT?
Suman Kumar reports that the Indian Met Office sounded off a fresh warning for a possible tsunami on the coastal Tamil Nadu & Kerala in Southern India. He has learnt from a friend that helicopters are announcing the warning on PA system to evaquate people from Kovalam. But the sea appears to be calm.
Was there a new earthquake or an aftershock, which possibly could be triggering more tsunami waves? Waiting for more news on this.
Update from Suman: Relief operations hampered due to fresh tsunami warnings. Relief camps across the Eastern coast have been evacuated and people are now moving inland. The water levels has risen in some places.
More Udpate: Yes it was a false alarm. There were more aftershocks around 5 scale near Andaman & Nicober on thursday and people were warned. I hope the geographical plates settle down soon so that no further tragedy can happen.
NEW TSUNAMI THREAT?
THE DEATH TOLL IS TOO MUCH TO BEAR
How many people die in a plane crash? 200 -300. How many die in an earthquake or a tornado+tidal waves? Maybe 10,000. According to the Wikipedia update, the Tsunami wave death toll rises to 68,631 and there are still 85000 people missing. This is all becoming too much to bear for a sane person.
Here are the before and after satellite images, which give some idea about the strength of the tsunami waves. The energy released by the 9.0-magnitude quake as the two sides of the undersea fault slipped against each other made the earth wobble on its axis and may have moved small islands as much as 20m, according to this report.
I hope that the nightmare would be over soon. The biggest ever relief program is underway. People are donating money to funds like never before. As Alan of Worldchanging says:
There is nothing like a common disaster, and continuing common threat, to bring people together, so recovery efforts are also likely to pull India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand into tighter circles of regional economic cooperation.
Lets hope that mankind recuperates from this loss hand-in-hand.
WHAT MIGHT HAVE SAVED BANGLADESH?
Many are wondering why the coasts of Bangladesh weren't hit by the Tsunami waves as bad as those of eastern India. I am not an expert, But looking at the graphics, the Tsunami waves triggered by the quake first hit the Andaman & Nicober islands belt and weakened on the way to south of Bangladesh through the Bay of Bengal. That is what might have saved Bangladesh. But again I hope geologists can give a realistic view of this idea. However, Bangladesh experienced earth and water quakes as reported earlier.
Experts said that "the shallow water on the continental shelf of Bangladesh slowed down the onrushing sea surges before they could ravage the country's coastline."
Here is a link to the SEA-EAT blog set up by the South East Asian bloggers, which updates news and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts round the clock.
The above image is via Wikipedia. According to them the latest casualty figures are 23,700 and 80,000 people are still missing. That will just give you an idea how much the death toll may rise. Horrible.
O SWEET VICTORY , COME TO US AGAIN AND AGAIN
Bangladeshis had 100 reasons to cheer after their only 6th win in 100 ODI cricket matches they played till yesterday. They beat India by 15 runs in a packed stadium of 40,000 people. Although it has been a long time coming as Michael said, victory eluded cricketbabe Bangladesh as the players just could not play to their potential and work out a victory against a major cricket palying nation since long. Here are some pictures of the celebrations. I guess India will take revenge today at their 3rd meet of this tour.
This would be a moral booster for them for the upcoming Zimababwe's tour to Bangladesh. And I hope victory will be a regular event for the team as the level of standard of cricket rises in Bangladesh.
ANOTHER CLOSE CALL FOR BANGLADESH
Before the news came in we had no idea about the 8.9 quake that originated near Indonesia which shook the whole South & Southeast Asia bay regions and triggered giant tsunami waves to wash out millions leaving thousands of dead. We in Dhaka did not notice the tremble as it was not intense. The aftershocks of that quake jolted mainly the coastal areas and weakened deep into Bangladesh. Chittagong recorded 7.36 scale tremble for 42 seconds eventhough it was 1019 kilometres away from the seismic centre. The second tremor was measured almost two hours later at 4.35 on the scale. In the southeastern island of Sandwip,10 to 15 foot tidal surges dumped fish ashore. But miraculously the destruction was limited to cracks in some farmland and some buildings and low tidal surges along coastline. There were only reports of death of two children drowned as a boat with about 15 tourists capsized in high waves off Kuakata, a sea resort in Patuakhali district, 150km south of Dhaka.
Notably one mysterious thing happened across the country. There were waterquakes as the trembles swelled only water by 4 to 5 feet in the ponds and other water bodies as up North to Sylhet & Naogaon and caused the fishes to jump to adjacent plane. The earth jolts were minor in those area and as minimum as six seconds.
Aftab Alam, a geologist and quake-specialist explained:
"This quake mainly shook the ocean waters which is interconnected with the sub-soil water tables. The hydrostatic pressure increased and that resulted in water surges in different water bodies across the country."
Was Bangladesh lucky because it was long away from the epicenter? I guess not because Tsunami waves hit as far as Somalia. Probably this was a miracle but Bangladesh had a close call of disaster.
Meanwhile the death toll rose to about 15,000 and I think it would be much more as there are islands with poor communication close to the epicenter which should be badly hit by the waves.
The updates of the tragedy are being tracked by Tim Blair, The Independent, Rajan, Nitin, Jeff et al. Jeff also has donation and aids information updates.
If you haven't seen the images or read the news you would not be able to grasp the horror and element of surprise associated with the massive tragedy. In Thailand, in a hill along the coast people were casualy dining in a restaurant while tourists in the beach were washed away beneath them. No Tsunami warning system is in function in the places hit. No one was aware of what was happening and how to handle it. It shows that people are at the dominance of mother nature's will.
RIANNA UPDATE III
Hello Hello. Merry Christmas everyone. You people are the lucky ones who could get out of home and enjoy the Christmas holidays. But for me being 3 month-old, life is really hard. I can throw my arms and legs around but I cannot move on my own. Ma & Baba had plans to take me out for a drive around the city but that was postponed because of chilly weather. The weather is changing here in Dhaka and I am in protective cloths (mode) right from the start. They opted to stay at home and play with me instead. That was so disheartening for me, because it is really boring lying in bed and staring at the same ceiling everyday. I protested but nobody could read my lips from the gagas and owa-owas. But I must admit Baba played with me a lot. Ma claims that now a day I get very angry in trifle matters and resent crying my heart out. The adults often forget that babies have emotions and preferences too. She should understand that I do not like left alone and I do want to assert my preferences. But I must say Ma loves me very much. She got very worried about my intense crying during nights and shitting at 4-5 days interval and took me to a doctor. He was a fine chap who said that I am a citizen of an independent country and I am free to drink whenever I want and shit whenever I want as long as I am not taking anything other than Ma’s milk. He said that I was OK and the intense crying might be due to “3 months colic”, a state, which worlds 10% infants suffer from. This is due to forming of gas during the day and not burping up properly. He also said that after 12 weeks this symptom would stop automatically and it did.
I have not said any word yet but I communicate a lot with Ooos & Eees. I appreciate with smiles if you are talking to me nicely. I don’t go to stranger’s lap. I am fond of watching TV and specially cartoons. If you look at my blink less face when I watch TV, you will make out that I do understand a lot. The thing I like most is Ma’s lullaby, which I need to hear before my sleep at night. I feel secure when Ma is around.
Wishing everybody a happy new year. Happy holidays.
Rianna's audiolog (in wav format)
* Rianna Update II
* Rianna Update I
* Welcome Rianna
* Eating out Blogging and Journalism
* Being a Bengali American
* Crisis in Baghdad
* World's smallest baby
* The world's tallest building
* Heavy Metal F.A.Q.
* This weeks Bharatiya Blog Mela
* Pictures of beautiful Rangamati
THE DYNASTY CONTINUES
Yesterday Dhaka saw the rise of another son in the South Asian politics, which is very much dominated by leaders bread in dynasties. Sajib Wazed Joy, the only son of the Leader of the Opposition and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina and the grandson of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman arrived Dhaka along with his American-born wife Christina and they were given a rousing reception. It was for the first time that Joy came to Bangladesh after his marriage in the US. The processions of thousands of peoples created chaotic traffic situations in the city.
It was an astounding experience for Christina and she reacted :
"I guess I married the whole country."
Although Joy did not clearly say about his political debut but his mother Hasina said:
"As a mother, I am certainly happy to see that my son joins the politics. I came to politics as the daughter of my father. We were also born in a political family."
And thats what does not make sense to me. Is that the pre-requisite of a good leader not to mention the risks they inherit from their forefathers' bad deeds? Why the people of the sub-continent so much relies on the leaders of the dynasties. Joy has been abroad for so long and has no previous experience in politics. People barely know him. Adding more drama to that event, Joy (apparently prompted by Awami League) refused one letter of greetings from Tareq Zia, the son of the prime minister Khaleda Zia, congratulating him on his decision to enter into Bangladesh politics. Right from the start the political rivalry is being passed on to the next generation. That does not promise anything sparkling in the politics arena. My take is that people should move their focus away from these figures and look for young, competent and committed leaders beyond dynasties. As a saying goes: "the nation is cursed, which cannot produce good leaders". Let us break the curse.
AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE
* Oppression in a new form - A baby producing factory in Nigeria.
* The debate on the topic "God and the Evolutionalists" continues. I agree to what Razib says:
"Religion" is a very broad definition, and so a one-size-fits-all explanation is probably untenable
* The Bazee.com scandal and the arrest of the CEO of the webportal has created much controversy in India. The point is: "Can e-commerce service providers possibly police all client transactions on its website and be liable for abuse?".
* Living in Hong Kong according to Simon:
Hong Kong is larger than you think, more cosmopolitan than you imagine and an ecletic mix of culture and people. It's a great place.
LOGICAL INTERPRETATIONS REQUIRED
After 9/11 Islam faced lots of controversy because some extremist quarters were making interpretation of Islam which posed a threat to general civilians (muslim-non-muslim alike). Some think that Islam and secularism do not go along side-by-side. I am not an expert in religions. But I think logically Secularism doesn't hinder people from bearing the religious cultures and sentiments. It will never eradicate religion from societies as they claim.
Islam is not being seen as a religion of peace because of these illogical interpretations. Mahmood of Bahrain has written a thought provoking post regarding this where he says,
How can something that applied 14 centuries ago apply now? Isn't the world completely different? Would you apply the same medicines available then to ailments afflicted on human beings now? Can a cure for common cold be applied with the same alacrity to cancer? I think not.
There are far too many questions, and unless we face them logically without the interference of emotion, we can never find answers, and really, never save as well as propagate the greatest religion the world has known.
Let us try to find the answers logically.
DIVIDED OPINIONS: PRO or ANTI
Is Bangladesh divided in opinion? Arnab has written an eye-opening article about the current situation of Bangladesh. Just as one person can be a terrorist to some and at the same time a revolutionary fighter against enemies to some others, the interpretation of good and evil varies from people to people. He points to the facts:
We are today going away from the essence of independence. We ask the question about the creation of our country! We question the reasons of independence! Do we really have freedom?
Being a Bangladeshi used to be meant anti-Pakistani! The increase of hatred was not the reason of our independence. We didn't separate from Pakistan so that we can hate them. However, now-a-days, the wave is changing, now to show that you love Bangladesh, you have to hate India. The more you hate India and love Pakistan and Islam, the more you love Bangladesh. Bangladeshi Hindus are always mainly pro-Indians but to show that they also love Bangladesh, they try to take an anti-Indian position. Is that why we separated? To hate India? To increase hatred?
Arnab has rightly said now-a-days nobody is pro-Bangladeshi. Sadly we try to be either pro-Indian or pro-Pakistani. And we are pointing fingers at each other:
The majority community is pointing fingers at the minority community for being pro-Indian and the minority community is pointing fingers at the majority community for being pro-Pakistani. The fundamentalists are pointing fingers at secularists for going away from Islam and secularists pointing fingers at fundamentalists for being fundamentalists. Left is pointing fingers at right! Right is pointing fingers at the left! Atheists pointing fingers at the theists! Theists pointing fingers at atheists! And just like everyone else I am also pointing fingers at everyone!!!
In my opinion Today our countrymen have different opinions, because the words fundamentalist, anti-liberation force, razakar (traitor) have so much been overused by crooked politicians against their opponents that the real weight of these words have been lost to many who take these lightly. And the real traitors have become freedom fighters in disguise who are better off than the freedom fighters. Histories are being rewritten. I blame both the Awami League and BNP for these because they both have been guilty of letting those traitors coming into limelight for the interest of their leaders. Many of the leaders blame them publicly but do business with them internally. The Jamaat-e-Islami has done nothing to disown or protest or clarify the deeds of some of their senior leaders who are publicly known as collaborator of Pakistani forces who were involved in mass killings. Instead they are led by those figures whom the people will never believe nor accept. I think we need to stop generalizing people, a mistake even I make.
Arnab has rightly said that we need to stop pointing fingers at each other and need to point fingers at ourselves. We must remember that even though the political parties of Bangladesh try to politicize the success of the war of independence to their favor, it was a people's war irrespective of religion, political leaning and class of people (rich or poor). Time has come again to assemble ourselves towards one vision, security, peace and prosperity of Bangladesh irrespective of all the divisions and pro or Anti feelings we bear. Because together we will rise and divided we will fall.
ASIA BLOG AWARDS 2004: VOTING HAS BEGAN
If you have not yet checked the contenders for the best blogs in Asia, please go to Simon's site. And please cast your vote for the best. I am sure you will find some new and interesting weblogs to bookmark.
The four articles posted below were first posted last year. These are posted again because I thought some of the international readers might want to get the whole picture about the struggles of the people of Bangladesh and how the nation was created. I think these are not enough and I will continue to provide links and try to answer queries if possible. For an unknown reason the liberation museum online site (www.liberationmuseum.org) is offline which contained much information.
VICTORY DAY: 16th of December
On this day in 1971 out of the crucible of blood and sacrifice, Bangladesh was born. This day is celebrated with glory and joy supplementary to the Independence Day, which is the 26th March. Actually Independence Day marks the declaration of our Independence and start of a bloody and glorious War of Liberation against the occupied forces of Pakistan. The govt. of Independent Bangladesh was formed in April 1971. On Victory Day, nine month later the Pakistani forces surrendered to the allied forces of Bangladesh and India. The people of Bangladesh chose to be their own masters rather then the remaining slaves, and achieved liberty. Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign independent country, like it never was before in the more than 3000 years of recorded history of the Bengali speaking people truly, completely independent at last. They were inspired by nationalism and patriotic spirit, which can be represented by one question of a Bengali poet "Who wants to live without freedom?"
We must recall the heroic deeds of the founder, father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Bangabandhu), Ziaur Rahman, the freedom fighters, the freedom loving general people of the country (of all race and religion), Ms. Indira Gandhi, and the people of our neighbor India for their support. Our prayers are for those numerous lives lost in this war and their families who endured the pogrom like genocide (almost 3 million casualties including 3000 Indian Soldiers), devastation and rape by the Pakistani Army and their collaborators.
I would like to recall the contribution of people all over the world who lend a hand in help of the numerous refugees who were living in appalling conditions in the camps in India.
The values of the liberation war were secularism, democracy, liberal outlook and modernism and no religious bias. But after the independence government of every hues have been in power and failed to uphold the values of the liberation war. They also reinstated the anti-liberation parties like Jamaat-e-Islami and others who were indicted as collaborators of Pakistan forces. The biggest mistake of the peace-loving nation was to forgive those traitors, who now threaten to put a knife on our back. This is why we always go back to 1971 to remember our heroic deeds so that we can fight for keeping ourselves in the path laid by the values.
Liberation War Museum is a great initiative to archive the war of independence.
The Concert for Bangladesh
The US government was against the Bangladesh's liberation war in 1971. They were allies of Pakistan and even sent the 7th fleet to intimidate India for not interfering with the events.
But it was the peace loving people of US who created the forum "Americans for Bangladesh" and arranged a poetry recital program on 20th November 1971 in Saint George Church, New York. Among the poets who performed were Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovski, Ed Sanders etc. Ginsberg wrote and recited the famous poem "September on Jessore Road".
But the greatest effort was the "Concert for Bangladesh". George Harrison of the beatles with the help of Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan, Mr. Klein and Joan Baes arranged the phenomenal fund raising event in 1st of August 1971 in Madison Square Garden, New York. Some 40,000 peoples attended and $243,418.50 was collected from the event and was given to Unicef for the war affected children of Bangladesh. An album was produced (of 3 LPs) which is available here.
The artists of the concert and album were:
* Bob Dylan
* George Harrison
* Ravi Shankar
* Ustad allarakha
* Ringo Star
* Eric Clapton
* Billy & Don Preston
* Leon Russell
The lyrics can be found here. Some lines from George Harrisons's Bangla Desh:
My friend came to me, with sadness in his eyes
He told me that he wanted help
Before his country dies
Although I couldn't feel the pain, I knew I had to try
Now I'm asking all of you
To help us save some lives
Bangla Desh, Bangla Desh
Where so many people are dying fast
And it sure looks like a mess
I've never seen such distress
Now won't you lend your hand and understand
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh.
Bangla Desh, Bangla Desh
Now it may seem so far from where we all are
It's something we can't neglect
It's something I can't neglect
Now won't you give some bread to get the starving fed
We've got to relieve Bangla Desh
Relieve the people of Bangla Desh
Those who contributed will always be remembered.
The history of Independence of Bangladesh
I am not a historian. But I am trying to summarize here the history of Bangladesh's Independence for those who would like to have an idea about it.
In 1947 Indian subcontinent got its independence from British rule and were divided into Pakistan & India. The division was on the notion of two-nation theory, Hindu & Muslim. Some say that the British invoked the Hindu Muslim riots, some say the shrewd politicians, but these grim incidents led people nodding to this partitions and thought if the Hindu's and Muslims had a separate country, there would be no such violence. But wrong again. What would happen to most of the Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India, who were living in harmony since long? Pakistan was divided into two portions: West Pakistan (containing Pathans, Panjabis, Beluchis) & East Pakistan (containing the Bengalis). A large-scale migration took place after that. Hindus were almost completely wiped out of West Pakistan. But lots of Hindus remained in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and many Muslims in India.
Pakistan is basically a fundamentalist country, from its birth. They chose Arabic fonts for their national language Urdu and imposed it to Bengalis. But the East Pakistanis fought for keeping their language Bangla as a second state language, and gave their lives in 1952 in the process. East Pakistanis were deprived of many things as West Pakistan progressed and East Pakistan kept behind, because here Bengalis hold on to their culture and values (which was treated by Pakistanis as not Islamic) and we had to survive a lot of devastating natural calamities, which were neglected by the govt. sitting on West Pakistan.
In 1970, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party Awami League won the majority (over 53 percent) in National Assembly election. But the lords at West Pakistan did not welcome it. The Assembly was suspended with the fear that Sheikh Mujib would be the head of Pakistan. He called for a nationwide strike and preparation of independence in East Pakistan in March 7, 1971. In 25th March 1971 West Pakistan Army started an operation killing many innocent civilians, University students, even police forces with a view to diffuse the uprising and tensions.
In 26th March 1971, on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Independence declaration was read by another patriot, Ziaur Rahman (an Army major that time). A bloody war of liberation began.
Pakistan Army's motto was to ethnic cleanse Hindus and dominate Bengalis so that they can rule them better. The general people of Pakistan were told in propaganda that the Army is controlling the civil war, which is being instigated by India. Approx. 3 million people died in the war, women were mass raped by Pakistanis, houses looted, devastated. Many took refuse in the neighboring India. But Bengalis started to resist. Freedom fighters were trained up with the help of neighboring India. And the fight back rattled Pakistanis. They could not stop the rebellion within 9 months. At last India engaged in the war and Bangladesh got liberated from the tyranny of Pakistan. The Pakistan Army and some collaborators killed some of the finest intellectuals of the country just two days before their surrender in 16th december 1971, which I have written in my last post.
The war itself is an epic. The history of it is being written in bits and pieces and there have been efforts also to summarize it. But we should never end the quest for the true spirit and values of the war.
Click here for the map of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Liberation War 1971 Photo gallery
Click here and here for more pictures.
MARTYRED INTELLECTUALS DAY: DECEMBER 14TH
Today is the day of martyred intellectuals, who were brutally killed by the Pakistani occupation army and their cohorts in 1971. Sensing their imminent defeat in the Bangladesh's liberation war, the Pakistani occupation forces and their local collaborators Rajakar, Al-Badr and Al-Sham kidnapped leading Bangalee intellectuals and professionals on December 14, 1971 and killed them only two days before victory at the end of a nine-month long War of Liberation. Renowned academics, doctors, engineers, journalists, teachers and other eminent personalities were dragged blind-folded out of their residences in the city and killed in cold blood to cripple the new-born nation intellectually. Their bodies were dumped at Rayerbazar, Mirpur and some other places on the city's outskirts.
How savage their thoughts were! The plan of the occupation army and its supporters was to orphan the nation which would certainly need the leadership and wisdom of its worthy sons to move ahead in the early days of its independence.
Some may argue that the killings have set us back a bit. Think about the current crisis of true patriotic leaders and intellectuals with good moral character. But actually its our failure to carry on their legacy as we are forgetting them and our glorious past. The nation can produce such great intellects over again. Lets remember those souls and try to do our work with a mission for which they died: "A peaceful, happy, prosperous and independent Bangladesh ".
AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE
* World Bank on Dhaka motorised and non-motorised transport
* The idea of India
* How disgraceful and misinformed a country quize be!
* The new "Carnival of the Capitalist" is up at Samablog.
* Are we not South Asians?
* We don't need no stinking WTO
* Mary-Kate & Ashley Sign Pledge For Sweatshop Maternity Leave
* Religious intolerance in Bangladesh & India
IRAQI BLOGGERS' TOUR OF USA
Iraqi Blogger brothers Omar and Mohammed are touring USA sponsored by Spirit of America, an initiative to raise funds for helping the people of Afganistan & Iraq. The tour is part of the Spirit of America program "Friends of Iraqi blogger challenge" which has already raised $62,865 to fund the needs and projects selected by these bloggers. Their tour program include meeting president J.W. Bush at the Oval office and attending a blogger conference at Harvard. They have also appeared on radio (Brian Lehrer's WYNC show). Details of their tour can be found here. A quote from Mohammed at the conference:
Media try to show only the differences between groups and countries but really human beings have many, many things to share.... Here in blogging, I learn from my readers.... I think through blogging we can spread love more than we can spread hate.
However, Professor Juan Cole of "Informed Comments" reports that some are pointing out to the fact that the views of the Iraqi blogger brothers are celebrated in the right-leaning weblogging world of the US whereas opinion polling shows that these views are far out of the mainstream of Iraqi opinion. Juan Cole says:
Contrast all this to the young woman computer systems analyst in Baghdad, Riverbend, who is in her views closer to the Iraqi opinion polls, especially with regard to Sunni Arabs, but who is not being feted in Washington, DC.
And he poses the ultimate question:
Is the blogging world actually less open to manipulation than corporate media?
We are staying tuned.
Update: Ali takes the professor up on the Riverbend issue. Wow the debate its getting hotter.
TWO LITTLE MASTERS
India's batting god Sachin Tendulkar equals another world record the highest Centuries (34 centuries) in Test Cricket with his countrymen, Sunil Gavaskar, another genius during the 1st test between India & Bangladesh. The match is not at all balanced if you look at the scores. Bangladesh is destined for another innings defeat by tomorrow morning. This is not to undermine the batting genius Tendulkar's play, but he got many lives (one at 0) as easy catches were dropped by Bangladeshi fielders. Tendulkar went on to score an unbeaten 248. I guess the goddess of luck was on his side and you need her to succeed. As predicted Anil Kumble went past his countryman Kapil Dev to be the highest test wicket taker for India.
Congratulations to both of them and I reckon they will extend their records to an extent, which will be tough to beat in 50 years.
Hundreds of thousands of people formed a 900 km-human chain across Bangladesh to show "no confidence" in the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led coalition government. There was no estimate available from any source of the number of demonstrators. The protest was not violent in nature, but some ruling party goons instigated a few clashes in few places as indicated in the above picture. The chain stretched from Teknaf to Tetulia, the south and North corners of Bangladesh.
I am always in favor of peaceful protests. Jane terms it Ukrainian style demonstration.
PICTURES OF RESISTANCE
Drik, a photography related organization arranges CHOBIMELA III the third biannual international festival of photography. Their last two initiatives were also successful.
Sahidul Alam, a pioneer of photography in Bangladesh (Chief of Drik) has this to say on this year's theme "Resistance":
"Each pen that fails to write, each shutter that fails to open, each voice that refuses to shout in protest when governmental and corporate power flex its muscle, bears the guilt of compliance. This festival in giving space to the excluded, pays homage to the few who continued to say no."
Here is a good review of the festival. Ishtiaque has posted links to the schedule. Finally I am managing some time to visit the festival today. So all picture lovers in Dhaka, what are you waiting for?
AT LAST WE HAVE A MATCH UNDER TIGHT SECURITY
The Indian cricket team has finally landed in Dhaka yesterday for their 2nd tour in Bangladesh after the Indian security team gave a green light. The tour was put on hold after Indian High Commission in Bangladesh received a fax threat from a outfit called "Harkat-ul-Jihad" which according to me is purely a hoax. The 1st test is scheduled to start tomorrow after a one-day delay. Threats to cricketers are not new but this is the first time it has happened in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has tightened the security and assured safety to the Indian cricketers in all places.
Lets hope for some great match where as per Bangladesh's current dilapidated form India would be thriving for some records.
LIVING IN BANGLADESH
While passing our remark about other country or people of other societies, we often forget that we do it without having enough information about the wider world. We do the stereotyping carelessly without keeping in mind how others will feel about it. I came across this post titled "Think how lucky you are you don't live in Bangladesh" where Jack, a 42 year old American recollects the experience of his brief stay in Dhaka 18 years ago. If you are from a developed part of the world that you will agree with him reading that article that the modern infrastructures of developed countries is almost non-existent in Bangladesh where people flock to the new overpass as they have never seen one road top of another. And Jack had to undertake this painful experience because he got into the Bangladesh Biman flight which was $50 cheaper than the competition.
Dear Mr. Jack, you do not know much about our history. Bangladesh, a relatively new country was liberated in 1971 from Pakistan through a bitter war which left 70 million free people in a fertile delta of only 56000 sq. mile. Most of the infrastructure (bridges, airports, roads) were destroyed by the Pakistan Army and Bangladesh has come this far without much help from others (of course there were some grants and loans from developed countries but not without conditions and interests) . We had to face natural disasters (like flood, cyclone) almost every year. You will be surprised to know about the courage and determination of the people of Bangladesh to start everything all over again and carry on with their dreams. You were liberated a couple of centuries ago and you have gone close to a welfare state only in this century. Give us atleast a century to develop. I think you have heard of Rostow's (he's an american) model of economic development where he uggested that countries pass through five stages of economic development. To many in the world Bangladesh may seem poor among similar countries according to the economic indicators, but I am sure if those countries would face such natural disasters, they could not be better off than us. And how can you measure standards of living where in a rural Bangladesh village, a familly can survive well with $50 income which maybe your one night dine-out cost.
Some years ago a study was carried out by the London School of Economics where Bangladeshis was declared the happiest nation on earth. US was ranked 46th. See what I mean. You don't have to have US standard of living all throughout the world to be happy. If you read the article "Don't worry be happy" you will understand what I am saying. A quote from Iqbal's Diary:
"If a person has no family to go back to, no real friends to talk to, no community which will treat him as one of their own what use is all the money, the nice roads, the nice schools and hospitals? "
As for me I am lucky to be living in Bangladesh because I am happy with my living standard and proud of our culture and fighting spirit. You need to know more about Bangladesh & Bangladeshis to understand this.
ASIA BLOG AWARDS 2004
Looks like the blog fever has caught many of the bloggers. This years "Asia Weblog Awards" is being hosted by Simon. Last year Phil ran a successful awards where I convinced him to open a Bangladesh category. There were only three Bangladeshi Blogs nominated in 2003 and mine was awarded the best Bangladesh blog. But this year I know that there are many Bangladeshi blogs on the net. Only 10 blogs will be nominated. So please nominate your blog and others in the respective categories. Since there are many good writers than me, they should run in the contest and the readers will chose the best from the lot. If you need some exposure to the world this is your chance. Click here for the best Bangladesh blog nomination. Best of luck.
INVENTION OF MINESWEEPER
I am not talking about the game incorporated in the Microsoft Windows OS. Its the real thing. Minewolf Systems, a German company has developed a mechanical minesweeper which will provide a cheap, quick, and less risk solution to clearing landmines which are a big threat to humans in the troubled regions of the world. If you buy one Mine Wolf, it can be modified to a normal tractor for farming when you are over with the mine clearing.
Here are some facts to show how lifesaving this invention is:
* There are up to 110 million landmines in the ground.
* There are about 215 million landmines stockpiled throughout the world.
* More than 80 countries are affected by landmines.
* It is estimated that more than 20,000 civilians are killed or injured each year.
* It costs $3 - $30 to purchase an antipersonnel mine, but it costs up to $1000 to remove one.
* Mines can remain active for 50 years.
INT'L EDUCATION FARE - SUPPORTING EXPORT OF MANPOWER?
In general, there are two categories of students in Bangladesh who go for higher study in abroad. In one category are the brilliant students, who have quest for higher study in many fields, which are not available in the country. They get good scholarships because of their merit and they usually end up living abroad (call it brain drain) as there is little scope for job for those degree holders in the still developing industries of Bangladesh. And those scientists who want to devote themselves for research, Bangladesh would not be the best place for them. The other category of students have rich parents but not enough brilliance to get admitted in best local universities through competition. So they look for some small US or Australian colleges to be admitted and land on those countries and in most of the cases they do not finish their study. For them the achievement in life would be migration to a developed country as usually their relatives rarely ask about what are they doing abroad. In reality they might be earning their living by waiting or doing some other petty jobs but they will boast of being something else to their keens back in the country.
A recently concluded education fare in Dhaka shows how many are keen to study abroad. My point is who is determining the quality of the educational institutes who are trying to get students from Bangladesh. I wouldn't mind if those Bangladeshis were going to Oxford, Yale etc. places. As per my knowledge the low category international educational institutes try to obtain students on the basis of money, but not merit. Is education a commodity? Isn't there enough private education institutions cropping up in Bangladesh to cope the increasing demand. Many of these institutions, I believe give good education and are feasible for parents. So why is that rush to go abroad? Is this another way to exploit poor people's money by those institute or a ploy of the local agents to export manpower in disguise?
VOTE FOR THE BEST WEBLOGS
Voting for the 2004 Weblog awards has began. My blog is nominated in the categories "Best Asian Weblog" & "Best of the Top 3500 - 5000 Blogs". I was surprised to see that none of the Indian bloggers and many other Asian blogs were nominated. I was pretty busy for almost 15 days and it was a shock for me to find now that many of them were not even pitched for nomination. Anyway as I am nominated, I would be representing those fellows of mine. So vote for me if you want to vote for a South Asian representation in the "Best Asian Weblog" category. Just click on the categories mentioned above and you will go directly to the voting page.
I would like to thank the friends who have helped me get nominated. Your support is the best award for me from this event.
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